Abu Hamza trial juror ill

The Old Bailey jury trying Muslim cleric Abu Hamza on soliciting to murder and race hate charges was sent home today after one of them fell ill.

Mr Justice Hughes said the juror had been struck by a bug but it was hoped he would return tomorrow.

“You cannot continue without him,” said the judge and told the remaining 11 jurors to ring the court later today for an update.

On Friday – the third day of deliberations – the judge told the jury there was no pressure or deadline on them.

“I am very conscious you have a big bulk of material and 15 different counts to deal with.

“You need to know there is no deadline or pressure on you. You have as long or as short a time as you need.”

The prosecution alleges that Hamza was a recruiting sergeant for terrorism and murder.

In his talks to audiences, “he was preaching terrorism, homicidal violence and hatred”, according to prosecutor David Perry.

Hamza made clear encouragements to kill when he gave lectures and sermons, he has told the jury.

He also preached hatred against Jews and non-Muslims, stirring up racial hatred, the prosecution alleges.

But Hamza claimed the case against him was politically motivated. The police made it up out of nothing, he suggested.

They arrested him in 1999 when they took away 725 tapes – some of which were of a similar nature to those in the current case.

They also took away the 10-volume Encyclopaedia Of The Afghani Jihad at the same time.

Prosecution later relied on the encyclopaedia, alleging it was a terrorism “manual” containing a dedication to Osama bin Laden and a passage suggesting a list of potential targets, including skyscrapers, the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben.

But Hamza said it was a gift and he had not read it. He dismissed a prosecution question asking whether there were Jihad (struggle to establish Islam) training camps in the UK as “a silly idea”.

His counsel Edward Fitzgerald QC said Hamza had been constantly monitored by the police and security services. His home in Shepherds Bush, west London, was “the most monitored in the country”.

“If he was intending inciting murder, why was he willingly talking to police and MI5 at the same time?”

Hamza, 47, faces nine charges under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 alleging that he solicited others at public meetings to murder Jews and other non-Muslims.

He also faces four charges under the Public Order Act 1986 of “using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up racial hatred”.

A further charge alleges Hamza was in possession of video and audio recordings which he intended to distribute to stir up racial hatred.

The final charge, under section 58 of the Terrorism Act, accuses him of possession of a document, the Encyclopaedia Of The Afghani Jihad, which contained information “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

The cleric denies all the charges.

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